Projecting Rookie Andre Drummond's Impact for Detroit Pistons
Andre Drummond is without a doubt the most intriguing rookie talent to come to the Detroit Pistons since Darko Milicic in 2003.
Okay, that comparison alone is enough to raise the blood pressure of many a fan in metro Detroit.
The comparison, however unpleasant, is apt.
Both were incredibly young, physically talented 7-footers that had the tools to be great but also the potential to bust.
Both came to Detroit from deep drafts and with plenty of questions surrounding them.
Both were also relatively unknown.
Milicic was a European player that most fans had never heard of a year prior to the draft, and most never saw play prior to his stint in Detroit.
Drummond, though he played for a big program in Connecticut, did not have the benefit of consistent coaching, as Jim Calhoun was hurt most of the year.
Ultimately, Milicic turned out to be one of the biggest busts in NBA history, and is now a fringe player that is looking to carve out minutes as a defensive center.
Whether Drummond follows this path is anyone's guess.
That being said, we should get to see Drummond early and often in his first NBA season.
The biggest difference between the two as of now is the teams that inherited them.
The 2003 Detroit Pistons made it to the Eastern Conference Finals and would be champions the next season. They had little need for Milicic, so he only saw time in blowouts.
The 2012 Detroit Pistons, though brimming with some young talent, are light years behind their predecessor and will need Drummond to have an immediate impact.
This is without question the weakest part of Drummond's game.
He lacks good instincts on the offensive side of the ball, and although he possesses a soft touch on his 8-10 foot jumper, his shot is highly blockable.
The system he is entering in Detroit is very different from the college system he had with the Huskies as the Pistons will be doing much more pick-and-roll offense and less high-low post play.
The similarity, though, is that Drummond will not be a featured option.
In college, Drummond largely was a decoy, standing off of the play and crashing the offensive glass for put-backs.
That will probably be the case in Detroit, with the exception being that he will set much more picks on the high post, and set more screens under the hoop.
He also should benefit greatly by having a very good big man in Greg Monroe next to him.
Monroe's game is tailor-made to Drummond's talents.
He is a much better offensive option, which should take pressure off of Drummond.
Monroe is also an excellent passer and should be able to set up Drummond for easy hoops.
At the end of the day, that really is what you are looking for from Drummond. He needs to be more efficient as an offensive rebounder and get his points around the hoop.
If he can average 10 points and three offensive rebounds per game as a rookie, the Pistons should be ecstatic.
This is truly where the Pistons need Drummond to shine right off the bat.
His physical size and athleticism alone should make him a defensive nuisance immediately.
Here is where he needs to reward Monroe for the help he will get on the other end of the court.
Monroe struggles with strong, athletic big men.
For instance, just looking around the Pistons division, you see where Drummond should make an impact.
Against Indiana, David West is way too strong for Monroe in the post, and so Drummond inherits that job.
Likewise in Chicago, where Carlos Boozer ate Monroe alive last year.
Cleveland and Milwaukee lack true imposing big men on offense, but Ersan Ilyasova and Tristan Thompson have tremendous athleticism for each of those clubs and could be checked by Drummond provided he keeps his weight down.
Drummond will need to work on his defensive instincts and avoid committing too many fouls.
He needs to work on his timing, especially as it pertains to blocking shots.
He also needs to work on his rebounding.
In college, Drummond was just so much bigger and more athletic than everyone else, and he relied on these traits to grab boards.
In the pros, he will get destroyed if he doesn't head into every possession with a plan.
He also needs to avoid shying away from contact. Too often in college, he took the path of least resistance to get rebounds.
In the pros, he needs to assert his position, and let others bend to his will.
Ideally, this is where Drummond could have some solid numbers.
If he can average upwards of two blocks and four defensive boards per game, the Pistons would be very happy.
Astute Pistons fans will see a striking similarity in these ideal projected numbers to a certain player currently on the roster.
As a rookie, Greg Monroe averaged these same type of numbers, aside from the two blocks per game, of course.
Given that Drummond projects as either a starter or a third big man right off the bat, he has the potential to get there.
He won't be counted on too much on the offensive side of the ball, but he should make an impact right away on defense.
The key for Drummond is attitude and improvement.
In college, he had a tendency to disappear for long stretches and coast.
In Detroit, he won't be able to get away with that. If he coasts, the coaching staff will pull him and cut his minutes.
I don't see this happening, however. He is entering an environment that should put him in a position to succeed.
He will be surrounded by high-character guys that tend to work extremely hard.
There is a lot to be excited about this year in Detroit.
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